I lead a discipleship group/Bible study once a month. We have been studying the book of 1 John for some time and it has been wonderful--wonderful fellowship, friendships, worship, accountability, and growth in godliness. Over the course of this study, we have really learned the book of 1 John and we've also talked at length about how to read our Bibles.
Too often, we feel compelled to start in Genesis and just read through the Bible. We set up reading plans to get us through the Bible in a year or so. We check off books we've read and move on to the next. Hear me out; I’m not saying these plans are all together bad. They aren’t. If you are reading your Bible, especially on a daily basis—GREAT! About two years ago, I read through the entire Bible and it proved very beneficial for me. (I definitely recommend reading through the entire Bible.) But, the in-depth study that I craved was pushed aside in order to get through the required reading plan. It seems like I’m contradicting myself. Yes, I think Christians should read through the entire Bible, but I also think it’s so important that we camp out in the Word and not get bogged down with reading plans. Make sense? Clear as mud?
Recently, I listened to an old (1980 is old, right?) sermon series by John MacArthur on studying the Bible and then I read a coordinating article. [Click HERE to read the article] He gave wonderful advice which sparked something in me and I really wanted to share. *By the way, these are my words, not MacArthur’s!! Just go to the real article if you want the good stuff!!!
- Spend the majority of your time studying the New Testament because it explains the Old Testament.
- Take around 7 chapters per New Testament book and read them over and over for an entire month. For some books like 1 John, which only has five chapters, you’ll read it over and over again for a month. For other books like Matthew, which contains 28 chapters, you’ll read 7 chapters at a time for a month. That means you’ll be in the book of Matthew around 3 months.
- As you are studying the books of the New Testament, read through the Old Testament like a narrative--a story.
- As you read the New Testament ask questions and answer them. Use a commentary to help you along the way.
- Stay in one translation throughout your reading.
- As you read the New Testament, determine key themes for each chapter in each book.
- Don’t make the text say what you want it to; understand it in the context it was written and interpret scripture with scripture.
Similar to memorizing scripture, this type of repetitious reading will implant God’s word in your heart and mind. You’ll begin to recite scripture in your prayer time. You’ll begin to remember and recall God’s truths. His words will become active in your life.
My advice in a nut shell: Don’t be afraid to CAMP OUT in a passage! Study God’s word, persevere, and you will grow in sanctification!
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. I Timothy 4:7